TV Binge: Ultimate Beastmaster (Season 1, 2017)

Reality TV has always had some sort of following on regular television. Along the similar veins of American Ninja Warrior, Sylvester Stallone’s co-created obstacle course beast is the new Netflix Orginal Series, Ultimate Beastmaster. Filmed in the California Dessert and grandly built with 4 different obstacles sectors and 108 competitors from 6 different countries and filmed over 8 days with 12 different hosts from USA, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Korea and Germany. This is a huge feat in itself. The question now is how compelling is this show going to be? Will it live up to expectations? How will they keep it entertaining?

Let’s check it out!

Ultimate Beastmaster (Season 1, 2017)

Ultimate Beastmaster

Creators: David Broome & Sylvester Stallone

Eighteen competitors run an obstacle course known as “The Beast”, where nine of them will be crowned “Beastmaster”, and will compete against each other to be crowned Ultimate Beastmaster. – IMDB

 There’s something incredibly appealing about watching man perform and compete in challenging obstacles. It is similar to watching for example Olympics or Crossfit competitions. I gather that is the appeal of watching American Ninja Warrior. The Ultimate Beastmaster takes this initial concept and creates an entertainingly challenging course full of very competent challengers who are fighting for this title. Being in Canada, we got the American cut which means we spend most of it with hosts Terry Crews and Charissa Thompson. Terry Crews is a great host with lots of one liners and adds a lot of fun just like the other sections with the other countries’ host that are fun and colorful in their own ways as well. The competitors themselves, no matter where they are from, are also very fun to watch in action and of course, as we listen to some of their backstories with the US competitors having more complete backgrounds (because this is the US edit), really give us a good idea on who to cheer for in each round and speculate who will make it to to the finale. Its 10 episodes of fun and entertainment.

Ultimate Beastmaster

The best part aside from its variety of competitors and the colorful hosts are for the beast of a structure themselves. The obstacle course is very challenging. It relies heavily on a complete well-rounded physique. As the episodes progress certain episodes will have various modifications in their courses like changing the rope to swing from one obstacle to the next or adding extra difficulties in slope for another. As we watch the competitors, we gradually learn who are probably more capable and perhaps the best part is cheering for the underdogs who we never expect to go through and finally do. There’s going to be favorites and sometimes, we found ourselves cheering for so many of them. Plus, everyone has a different approach on how they complete these obstacles or whether they go for the point thrusters often placed in challenging places and making decisions that could make or break their run of that level.

ultimate Beastmaster

To become the Ultimate Beastmaster is a huge title, the hard work in each episode makes us know the competitors that win and head into the episode 10 finale which crowns the ULTIMATE Beastmaster. They run the same course luckily but with higher difficulty. Knowing that this series with filmed over eight nights makes us realize that these competitors really didn’t have a lot of time to rest before having to jump into their next run, especially for those entering into the finale. Their wounds haven’t had time to heal and everything can really be against them, even if they have a certain level of expectation. However, it also depends on how the competitors are grouped.

Ultimate Beastmaster

Overall, there is a great thrill in watching Ultimate Beastmaster. The concept of making it international and hosted and shown in different participating countries is very commendable. The course is challenging and monstrous. There’s so much to love about this show. While we hope for a new season, the question remains whether they will use the same course or whether the beast structure will stay the same and the obstacle course itself will be reconstructued in order to make it refreshing. It is definitely one to watch if you enjoy these types of shows.

Have you seen Ultimate Beastmaster?

Valentine’s Marathon: Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special (Netflix 2017)

I was kind of on the fence whether to talk about this since its not really a movie but then its a new thing on Netflix. Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special is a Netflix Comedy Special. Still, its Valentine’s related and I didn’t have time to watch another movie. I had promised to look at a double feature of Blue Valentine and Crazy Stupid Love. And I will a little later. The movies are sitting on my  player right now and I’ll get on that. In the meantime, let’s check this out!

Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special (2017)

Michael Bolton's big Sexy Valentine's Special

Director: Scott Aukerman & Akiva Schaffer

Cast: Micheal Bolton, Sarah Shahi, Jimmy Graham, Maya Rudolph, Brooke Shields, Michael Sheen, Sarah Silverman, Adam Samberg, etc….

After Santa tells Michael Bolton that he needs 75,000 new babies by Christmas to meet toy supply, Michael Bolton hosts a sexy telethon to get the world to star making love. – IMDB

I’ve said it over and over again that comedies usually aren’t my thing. I have this specific type of humor that I like. It has to be smart and funny or in some oddly absurd way. While some parts didn’t make me laugh, in general, this worked pretty well. Its kind of this absurd humor with actors playing roles of some known personalities and then there’s musical performances with some odd lyrics. There are a lot of big stars and comedic actors and actresses all joining into this project. Michael Bolton, along with some other stars, belt out some tunes.

michael bolton's big sexy valentine's day special

I honestly don’t know how to talk about this show which sounds pretty weird in itself because I decided to put this together. While this sort of humor is not my usual type of thing, it worked incredibly well and was funny for a good part of it. It mocked the romance and the symbolic bits of Valentine’s and setting the romantic atmosphere. At the same time, it took normally cheesy tunes and added funny lyrics. My favorite part goes to Maya Rudolph singing “Key Change Baby”. It was just awesome and I couldn’t stop laughing. It is truly an absurd mesh of skits but set up in a charity hotline event where the celebrities answering the phone calls had funny little conversations as well. The fact that the show uses Christmas as the ten month anchor for building meaning to Valentine’s Day is actually pretty clever.

Michael Bolton's Big Sexy Valentine's Day Special

Overally, a surprisingly funny comedy special. If you are looking for some quick entertainment, this might fit the bill. However, as I always say, comedy is pretty subjective. I didn’t expect to enjoy this but did for the most part. It could be a nice twist from the normal romantic comedies or whatnot that you plan on doing. Plus, its on Netflix so a nice funny night in.

Have you seen this comedy special yet?

TV Binge: 3% (Season 1, 2016)

Netflix Originals are definitely taking TV in a huge whirlwind. One of that came out not too long ago is Brazilian Netflix TV series, 3%, a dystopian future of sorts. Its description reminded me a little of The Hunger Games mixed with something else. Fact is, I’m starting to fall out of this dystopian world phase except it seems they aren’t done yet. However, this one did catch my eye, plus, I’ve never watched any Brazil productions before so I was intrigued.

Let’s check it out!

3% (Season 1, 2016)

3% netflix

Creator: Pedro Aguilera

Cast: João Miguel, Bianca Comparato, Michel Gomes, Rodolfo Valente, Vaneza Oliveira, Rafael Lozano, Vivane Porto, Luciana Paes

A thriller set in a world sharply divided between progress and devastation, where people are given the chance to make it to the “better side” but only 3% of the candidates succeed. – IMDB

Dystopian futures are done to death. Look at the books and movies and tv series, it just doesn’t end. Is that a bad thing? Most of the time especially when plots feel like its rinse and repeat. It is hard to not have exhausted all the dystopian ideas since the very popular The Hunger Games has taken over, then bringing even more popularity to the fact that Battle Royale was the unmentioned inspiration and basis which was done much better except its a foreign film. Talking about foreign, 3% is a foreign TV series and while I confess that it has some components that reminds us of The Hunger Games, it strays rather far away from that. Maybe not the dark tone but rather in the way that it treats it more for an older audience. In short, 3% is a unique series. I binged it in pretty much one sitting. There are eight episodes of about 50 minutes each, which doesn’t take too long and for the most part, it does a decent job at keeping it intriguing. My only little criticism would be that it was pretty awesome up until about episode five and partially six and it made me realize why I didn’t like those episodes as much.

3% Netflix

3% has a good idea and a pretty decent execution. While the poor and rich being separated seems like a very generic idea, the way they choose to  design where the Inland poor people live is a lovely production setting and it shows the contrast with the midpoint of being at the testing facility sort of building where the selected group have to undergo a bunch of tests which will seek out the best of the crowd, the 3%, as the series is called. While it seems that the tests start off rather innocent with a cube building challenge, and the only dangers seem to be the ruthless characters that will do anything to win, the challenges do get worse and focus heavily on the inner monster buried within them. How they choose to get out of it or resolve the situation will determine who makes it to the next stage. If the group is doing too well, then the people controlling them will figure out a twist. While it does sound very Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, the intensity of the situation lies in a psychological level as our main group of candidates are unveiled to us by their back stories each in a different episode (which is very much like Orange is the New Black strategy). The technology here seems advanced and the characters are unique to watch. As friendships and allies and enemies are built, we start see the character develop as they try to strive for this better future. Even if the future is an unknown as to what they are to face or where this offshore is or what lies ahead, they all believe that anything is better than where they are.

3% Netflix

The best part of 3% has to go to its young cast who play as the candidates. These handful of casts had depth and they were able to portray it very skillfully, making us really capture the character that they were going through. Perhaps, we can’t quite go into the characters without talking about the plot a little more. While most dystopian movies like these ones are focused on solely the candidates the majority of the time, 3% as a TV series takes the time to really let us know the subplots that are bubbling in the background. The candidates still hold a large place for the first four episodes and that is one of the reasons for the build-up being very engaging. Their tasks are not easy and many times are rather difficult choices. It shows us who we want to side with and that what you see might not exactly be who they really are. Each of them have their skills to be a part of this no matter where they come from or their background or even if they have a disability. They all have some weakness but a lot of strength in various departments to make up for it. With that said, the subplots go to the background controllers. We never learn a lot about the people in the background who control these tests but the main showrunner (I forgot the title he has) is called Ezequiel and this is his dream job who now is under investigation from the main council as they send a woman to watch over his every move called Aline. As he tries to keep himself together and hold his role, he also needs to prove that he is capable of this job especially now that not only he under investigation but the first crime on the Offshore has also happened and they need to find out who is the undercover candidate rumored to be in their tests that are part of The Cause, which is a secret group against the entire concept of 3% and the Offshore and is set out to ruin it.

3% netflix

Ezequiel and Aline are actually rather well-built characters as well. However, the fault in this series comes in using an entire episode to talk about Ezequiel’s past when we’ve only seen snippets of him and in a rather bad light of who he is that the episode dedicated to him made it rather unengaging. I realized how much the series had made a fantastic effort and successfully helped connect us with each of the candidates but somehow, didn’t spend as much time making us care for Ezequiel even in all his little moments of strategizing and keeping balance between the ruthless tests, his questionable solutions and decisions and his verbal wars with Aline. However, the series does pick up again as the situation escalates to uncontrollable levels and the subplots start becoming a little more relevant and also makes the character, mostly the hated realistic ones into proving that they actually do have a heart, while others have changed because of the need to survive. Everyone here has a different agenda and perhaps that makes this one not only about survival but these desires and whatever haunts them or the secrets they hide will be what makes or breaks them by the end.

Overall, 3% is a pretty great series. I wasn’t expecting much when I started it but despite two slower paced episodes, the sum of it was thrilling and engaging to watch. The characters are done well and developed properly. While the story itself seems generic, they way they execute it along with the production sets and everything together makes for an impressive experience. I’m pretty happy that it is going to have a second season and look forward to checking it out!

Netflix A-Z Double Feature: The Pill & Quartet

I know double features are a rarity in Netflix A-Z with the exception of Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2 ( review HERE). However, the season has been rather busy and I’ve been more obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls than actually watching movies. In fact, this one has a little cheating to it because the Q selection in general on Netflix is so tiny and I only wanted to watch something fun during the holiday season that I just decided to bring back the Q Selection.

Let’s start this.

The Pill (2011)

The Pill

Director and writer: J.C. Khoury

Cast: Noah Bean, Rachel Boston, Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard, Al Thompson, Dreama Walker

Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint how I feel about The Pill. Its something I’ve been saying recently. Its more of an indifferent feeling that I have after watching it. While The Pill has a few rather nice moments, there is also something that lacks believability in it. Let’s break it down a little. For starters, Rachel Boston is fantastic as always as the free-spirited Mindy. Mindy is an intriguing character mostly because there’s a lot of color to her life as we learn about her during the day that she has to take her morning after pills in the company of Fred, played by Noah Bean. On the other hand, the issue I had more was that I didn’t think that Fred was a likable character. In fact, I wanted Mindy to see through his lies especially as he manipulated his way into staying with her during the day while the audience could easily see his intentions was only for his own protection to not have to deal with consequences. However, the story is more about him and his growth and recognition of what to do and what he wanted more than it was about Mindy. Perhaps this is where I think that the way it ended wasn’t necessary because it made the story feel much more generic than it may have been without that ending.

The Pill

There isn’t really much to talk about for The Pill. Its a rather straight forward story and somewhat predictable where its a boy meets girl, one night stand, a day together to get to know each other (probably more than expected from family party, etc.) and then he falls for her, she realizes what he’s been doing and he leaves and realizes how much of it was a mistake. A story like this can only be powered by charming characters and in reality, other than Mindy and at the start, the character felt a little off, Fred and especially his actual girlfriend Nelly was a little unbearable to watch. It helped as the movie went along that we saw Fred and his personality but it was hard to be sympathetic for him or feel like cheering him on. For me, The Pill just didn’t connect the way that it was intended.

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. – IMDB

[Excerpts from review that I wrote in 2015. Full review HERE]

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

My Weekly Adventures #34: Fun and Busy December!

Ladies and Gents! All of you lovely awesome readers! Its the last My Weekly Adventures of 2016! Can you believe it? In a little more than two weeks, we’ll be in 2017! OMG, panic time!  Just kidding 😉

It isn’t too far from the truth to be honest. The last two weeks of December means a lot but we’ll talk about that in the final portion of this one. Now, let’s take a look at what happened in the first half of December before looking at what is upcoming in the plans before we hit 2017! Its kind of a mad dash as you will see!

Let’s go!

Christmas Activities

wp-1481773077372.jpg

The only thing that has really happened in the last two weeks is really this little event for Christmas in downtown and checking out Luminotherapie. It was a ton of friends to go downtown with my friends and hang out. There was a ton of beautiful and adorable decorations, street food, local vendors and lots of lights everywhere. There were dancing in the street events and just lots of fun times. Here’s the little event recap!

The next day, we headed to the annual Montreal Crafts Show and I shared my haul HERE.

Kickstarter Rewards Received

wp-1481772752068.jpg

I back a lot of Kickstarter projects when I can afford it. Currently, there’s a good few in development so I’m taking a little break. Especially when some of them thats been sitting there since 2012 or so and the updates haven’t been incredibly encouraging, so I’m kind of rethinking my strategy. I never want too many to be sitting there because its kind of like the concept of investment and rate of return. That is the one semester finance student talking to me. Still, I do have changing opinions on Kickstarter but I do still love the indie scene too much to not support it when I see something that looks like it has great potential. Obviously, when these past weeks reaped two Kickstarter rewards being fulfilled, I was thrilled! I still have to sit down and watch them but stuck in a little rush of crazy that I’ll talk about soon. I had complete faith in these ones.

The Unkindness of Ravens is by Lawrie Brewster who I had backed his previous project, Lord of Tears which I reviewed HERE. Lord of Tears is an odd little movie but I like it a lot for the atmosphere it creates. I wish there were more people talking about it. Next one is Kiss Me Kill Me, and it is one that I had seen the screener when it premiered a little earlier this year. I didn’t review it as it wasn’t officially released and now we have the DVD version so that’s awesome! I’ll be reviewing it soon once I watch it again. I remember enjoying it quite a bit.

Hopefully, in the next year, more projects will be wrapping up and sending off their rewards. I have quite a bit of confidence for a good bit of them. Knock on wood that I didn’t jinx it.

Holiday Marathon & Christmas

img_2414

Its 10 days till Christmas!! And I’m so behind! Its rare that Christmas hasn’t been full-fledged over here. Deal is that I’m torn on what to review anymore. The selection is very minimal and its starting to be the feel-good Hallmark movies which aren’t exactly great to review because its fun but really nothing to overly talk about. Perhaps I’ll take the shorter review route. However, there has been scatters of things from Christmas events like the ones above to Christmas themed short stories and I’m starting to have a few Christmas movies as well. Crazy that Avenue of Daydreams is way ahead of the game and already having snapshots like the one above. Perhaps you’d like go head over and check out creative-but-currently-only-photography space. I actually a lot of Christmas photography coming up. If you like that sort of thing, check it out HERE and maybe give it a follow (I’m sorry for the shameless self-promotion).

With that said, I do have a few more movies to review for Christmas and maybe a list post if I can fit it in. I probably will have one or two recipes since I’m responsible for dessert at the Christmas party with family. Aside from that, well, the usual Christmas decor post is coming up once I finish up decorating the tree. Everything else but the tree and the stair railing is decorated.

Netflix A-Z

netflix

I addressed the whole Netflix A-Z thing already in a previous review. It has taken a while to resume after October and NaNoWriMo. Its all my fault, of course. No excuses. However, the idea of Netflix A-Z dabbling into 2017 makes me feel some sort of uneasiness. Maybe it just feels so much like its dragging on and I like to keep these series self-contained as its not a longer project, like Baking Through Disney (which I’ll address again in the New Year). So, I did announce it on Twitter, kind of, but I’m going to make a solid effort with an already drafted tentative schedule to get it all wrapped up by the end of the year. Its a little crazy seeing as I just finished K selection and its 15 more movies to reach the end. I’ll make the best effort. Plus, I’m working on a side thing that I want to be able to review everything I watch within the same year so it tracks what I’ve seen better.

Point is, it might get busy if I can keep up with all the reviews along with extra stuff. Hope you will enjoy it!

On the other hand, the reason to wrap it up is also that I’m probably not going to keep this segment or do movies in that A-Z order but not make it into a segment, just a personal way to choose what to watch next.

Kitty Cute Pic

wp-1481823918324.png

*last minute post means pics are in another computer so limited edition pikachu for all you Pokemon Go players is all I got 😉

What have you been up to? 

Netflix A-Z: Kill Charlie Countryman (2013)

For all of you not into all the Christmas stuff, I’m going to be continuing on with the Netflix A-Z. The most optimal thing would be to wrap it up before the end of the year but that sounds pretty much impossible. What I will do now is to do two Netflix A-Z starting with this one. I know its been a while so for those who don’t know, we’re doing an independent film take and if you don’t have the movie on your Netflix, its probably because I’m on the Netflix Canada and the selection may change depending where you are.

With that said, the next selection is Kill Charlie Countryman. Honestly, I don’t know why I picked it. I’m not a particularly huge fan of Shia Labeouf. But then, I’m changing my strategy to picking these movies and really trying to just take movies off My List of Netflix movies and not the entire Netflix library (because that is kind of crazy).

Let’s check it out!

Kill Charlie Countryman (2013)

Kill Charlie Countryman

Director: Fredrik Bond

Cast: Shia Labeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint, James Buckley

While traveling abroad, a guy falls for a Romanian beauty whose unreachable heart has its origins in her violent, charismatic ex. – IMDB 

Kill Charlie Countryman is one of those movies that seem to have the potential to do much better than it actually did. I spent a few days thinking about why I felt that way. For one, other than Shia Labeouf who I found mildly entertaining in Transformers, there hasn’t been much that I like of his, but I have liked a lot of Evan Rachel Wood’s performances and of course, Mads Mikkelsen. Maybe that is why I chose to watch this one, especially after the Playstation Experience peak at Kojima’s new game Death Stranding and the very creepy character that Mads Mikkelsen plays as, especially when its just one shot. Kill Charlie Countryman’s plot is a little odd and its a little hard to believe what is going on. It feels like he wants to have some odd humor there and yet Shia Labeouf rarely delivers it. At the same time, its hard to believe what the love his character Charlie actually has for this girl that he knows nothing about. It jumps from one spot to the next and the story doesn’t seem to flow well, especially when injecting the somewhat silly comic relief with Karl and Luc, played by Rupert Grint and James Buckley respectively.

Kill Charlie Countryman

Kill Charlie Countryman is all about the trouble that Charlie, played by Shia Labeouf gets into when he goes to Bucharest as his dead mom’s spirit (or something) tells him to, encouraging to go have some adventure and take risks. This turns out to be a great adventure indeed when his trip starts off with a dead passenger that he has befriended. This man is odd and his body/spirit also tells him to go carry out his last wish of bringing his souvenir to his daughter Gabi, played by Evan Rachel Wood. However, there is a odd feeling of why Charlie has these visions except to realize that it somehow vanishes and goes somewhat unexplained. I’m not sure whether an explanation would do the story any good or make it any different but the fact that its about Charlie who makes all these really unbelievable decisions from taking this lady’s car and cello and bringing it to the Opera House in the beginning or suddenly acting like (tries to) he has fallen deep in love with Gabi even before really knowing too much. Right from the get go, we already know she has the mafia boyfriend and this launches into a much more serious ordeal when there is a even bigger secret that looms in the background and makes him into a target, involving people that he also only just met. Its an odd trip. While I do criticize that Shia Labeouf is not the best person to take on the role. He also delivers one of the better performances that I’ve seen (for the most part). The only part that I cannot connect with is the romantic bits because it just isn’t a connection that the movie does a good job at portraying.

Kill Charlie Countryman

I believe some of the better scenes in this movie was the interaction with Mads Mikkelsen and in general the bad guys. They delivered the threat and fear. While I didn’t care much for any of these characters, Mads Mikkelsen has a very bad guy front that he does well. There is something incredibly menacing at times and then creepy at others. His expressions can just get under my skin. For that, while its hard to imagine that he does some of what he does because he is possessive and crazy in love over Gabi, his character Nigel is undeniably one of the stronger elements of this story and all the interactions whether it is him with Gabi or him with Charlie all made for the more entertaining bits to watch.

Sadly, one of the more disposable characters in the story seems to be Gabi. While she plays a stronger female role especially after having to deal with all of Nigel’s ordeals, the character of Gabi doesn’t have any substance. She is supposed to be the love interest to Charlie and there are moments you can sense the character being touched by Charlie’s actions and yet, she still makes odd decisions regarding Nigel. There seems to be more to the character that was cut out in the final edit that doesn’t have a complete image of who she is and what she knows. While Evan Rachel Wood has to put on a Romanian (I think) accent as well. I can’t say how accurate it is but somehow it doesn’t feel all that natural.

Kill Charlie Countryman

Like mentioned before, the comic reliefs here are Karl and Luc, played by Rupert Grint and James Buckley. These guys are the strange acquaintances that Charlie meets at the hostel where he decided to rent a room. These two guys are strange, with not a huge perception of anything except for the fact that they take drugs and make bad decisions. Its the spitting image of people taking things to the absolute limit and then realizing that they are stuck in a ditch and in trouble and then getting scared and not knowing how to react. Between all this, there is some fun. Its hard to determine whether I’m laughing at them or its meant to be funny. They never get a key part but somehow pop in in the middle to create trouble that leads Shia Labeouf to learn more about Gabi. It all seems very deliberate and not natural enough.

Kill Charlie Countryman falls short in many ways. It has mostly a cast that can deliver great performances but the script seems to not piece it well enough together. There are some fun moments and other entertaining and engaging bits but its never enough to make this film memorable. In fact, I closed this film feeling rather indifferent. Its these one that are the hardest to word how I feel because I don’t care much about it and don’t intend on watching it again and yet, I can’t exactly pinpoint what I thought was all that wrong. Perhaps it was the choppiness in plot, or how I  couldn’t buy into Gabi and Charlie’s love or maybe that some of the flow and consequences seemed too deliberate to make something else happen. Whatever it is, Kill Charlie Countryman is a lackluster film and one I probably won’t go back to watch.

Next up is L selection. Any guesses?

TV Binge: Easy Fortune Happy Life (2009)

We’re back for another TV Binge!

I’m not going to lie. This one has been sitting in backlog for a long time. I just always had something more important, well, like the Halloween marathon in October and then NaNoWriMo came by and I put a lot of TV binges on hold. Regardless, I mentioned this before when I did my other Taiwanese series write-up, but they hold a special place in my heart. Now that Netflix carries more and more of them. I just can’t help and rightfully binge watch them. Because if you are a Taiwanese drama fan, you know that when you can binge-watch it, you will. It is the only way to watch it.

The next one is Easy Fortune Happy Life. I’ve never even heard of this one before but that is because in 2009, I had basically fallen out of Taiwanese series completely. The reason of why I chose to watch this one is mostly because I know the cast in it for the most part and I like them quite a bit. Good enough reason for me usually.

Let’s check it out!

Easy Fortune Happy Life (2009)

Easy Fortune Happy Life

Director: Liu Jun Jie

Cast: Joe Chen, Roy Qiu, Cheng Long Lan, Jocelyn Wang, Qiang Ding, Zi Xian Chen, Xiu Jie Kai, Dong Zhi Cheng, Wang Juan, Hsia Ching Ting

Love spans generations in this tale of the one of who got away. Huang Chun Xiang saves the life of a young hunter by treating him with herbal medicine. Despite years of waiting for him and eventually raising her own family, Chun Xiang never loses faith that he will return. Chance brings the man — now elderly and the founder of a successful pharmaceuticals company — and her granddaughter Xie Fu An (Chen Qiao En) together. Struck by her uncanny appearance to Chun Xiang, he swears to give away his fortune to the man who marries her. However, his grandson Yan Da Feng (Lan Cheng Long) is none too happy about the possibility of losing his fortune, but soon learns you just can’t fight fate. – Drama Fever

Taiwan series are obsessed with Cinderella story. It is probably because it can have a lot of fun twists to inject into it. Everyone likes the down to earth girl who meets a rich guy and falls into fortune. Easy Fortune Happy Life turns this around a little. Fu An is a kind and down to earth country girl who is actually quite naive to the evil in the world. When she meets this family, the audience knows how horrible this family is and particularly greedy and selfish. We learn that this is the fault of the grandfather who is almost on his death bed and also realizes that his family is no longer one that cares because of the way he has taught them and how he runs his business and treats others. Suddenly, Fu An is not only Cinderella but one with power. While she doesn’t know that she is the key to the inheritance and is being wooed by Yan Da Feng, she holds more power than she actually realizes. We all know how this story is going to go. Easy Fortune Happy Life can only be criticized as being way too predictable but then, in the most heartwarming way, it still manages to strike a chord and tug a little at those heartstrings as we see the truthfulness of Fu An and how she has genuinely changed Yan Da Feng. Full credit goes to Joe Chen and Cheng Long Lan that bring these two characters to life in their contrasting personality.

Easy Fortune Happy Life

While our main couple’s story is a lot of fun to watch, their story sometimes gets a little dragged out and maybe at times repetitive. The only way this is stopped is with some great supporting characters. I’m going to admit (and I probably have a thousand times before) that I love supporting characters in Taiwanese series. Actually, they might be my favorite because they usually are the ones that prove to be the most well-crafted and just perfect in so many ways. In this case, I almost fell in love in Roy Qiu’s character of Han Dong Jie who plays an orphan guy who pretty much runs a loan shark business for the Big Boss but is trying to be as legit as possible. Right from the get go, we know that he is actually quite gentle and if anything, he can put a good front no matter what happens and very early, he becomes the protection that Fu An has. Actually, he is labelled as the guardian angel. This is the first time I’ve seen Roy Qiu and just the character design, from his physical appearance (like clothing, hairstyle) to his personality and the development of the character from the beginning until the end, I just love so very much. I connected with his character so much that I think his character made me care more about Fu An than if this character wasn’t there. Actually, he has a few other series on Netflix and I’m going to watch those soon-ish.

Easy Fortune Happy Life

Roy Qiu is great but then, this story still needs comedy. It is a romantic comedy series after all. And no one does that better than the silly cast in the background that sometimes helps ease away the overly dramatic moments. The little brother of Fu An, the silly sister and brother in law of Yan Da Feng, the right hand man of Han Dong Jie and the Village Chief in Fu An’s village where she came from and even the grandfather played a huge part in having those moments. While they do contribute to it at times, a lot of times, the silliness and pure stupidity of these characters and their decisions and even the dialogue they are given can be a little excessively stupid in a WTF moment but at the same time, it is hard to not laugh.

With that said, Easy Fortune Happy Life might not be perfect but it has a lot of perfectly fun characters. The cast itself is the winning factor of this series. The story is predictable, just like what Id say about a lot of romantic comedies (Hollywood in particular), but it is how you twist the scenario that adds a little more flair and character to the story itself. For that, even at its lengthy and repetitive bits here and there, I still found that I liked this one a good bit. I’m not running back to rewatch it any time soon but I won’t hold off the possibility of watching it again (even if its just to see Roy Qiu’s Han Dong Jie again).